The art of storytelling transcends genres, professions and industries. Most people enjoy a good story, and can even appreciate a bad story that’s told well. Great storytellers tend to be highly praised and widely loved. Good storytellers can be highly paid and hard to find. While bad storytellers help us to better recognize a good story when we hear it.
However, some of the most consistent storytellers hardly get any attention at all. One of the caveats of being a journalist is the necessary back seat to the story. Musicians, authors, painters and the like possess the artistic license to place themselves within and around their stories, often catapulting them to fame along with their pieces of work. In the world of journalism, journalists are almost completely bound by the ethics of their profession to maintain a high level of objectivity.
Not only does the shadow that journalists perform in go greatly unnoticed; it can also be extremely dangerous. Good journalists let us know what’s going on in the real world, not fiction nor fantasy but everyday life. The information journalists bring to light can be critical to the public’s safety, well-being and overall quality of life. Which reminds me of one of my all-time favorite quotes, written by one of the Chicago area’s very own—Ray Bradbury.
“People need quality information, the leisure to digest it and the freedom to act on what they’ve learned,” said one of the main characters in Bradbury’s award winning novel Fahrenheit 451.
As a society we depend on journalists tremendously for quality information. Unfortunately the digitalization of news has had negative effects on the quality of the information we receive, and the time we have to digest it before a more relevant story eclipses it. I try my best to be aware of what’s going on around me locally and throughout the world, and the news still helps me with that.
Amidst corruption scandals, police brutality cases, teacher strikes, budget cuts, school closings and more, Chicago is not a place where a journalists should be bored. In the words of Vic Mensa, one of Chicago’s rising storytellers, “There’s a lot going on.”
Chicago is a beautiful city that has a lot of positive things to offer those who live here, but for others it’s as dystopian as any Bradbury novel could ever get. News articles like the one I read yesterday from the Chicago Tribune, detailing the massive amount of murders this past weekend, remind me of just how far Chicago is from being a utopia. In this way, Chicago reminds me of the short story by Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” The story takes place in a near-utopia where everything is perfect, and all that is perfect only exists with the understanding that for one little boy locked away underground life is destined to be miserable.
I spend a descent amount of time downtown where I work and go to school, so I understand that it’s possible to live in Chicago and rarely if ever even think about the conflicts of violence, corruption and crime that take place here. When you finish reading about 65 people being shot and 13 fatalities, sometimes it doesn’t even seem like the same city. This is why the role journalists facilitate as storytellers within society is so important. Whether you want to hear it or not, journalist give a voice to segments of society that otherwise would be mute. (Charleston Parham/GTA)